Social media Q & A with author & poet Claire Dyer


This is the first of a new series of blog posts in which I ask writers questions about how they use social media.

Claire Dyer novelist & poet - homepage

Claire Dyer is a novelist and poet, with two novels and a poetry collection to her name. Her website combines a blog with details of her published work, what she’s reading and where she’s appearing. She also displays her Twitter feed.

I first met Claire at a magazine launch at the Albion Beatnik Bookstore in Oxford – she is widely published in poetry magazines – and I was interested to hear how she approaches social media.

Tell us about your blog…

My blog is part of my main website and can be found here…

I blog when I have something to say about my writing, other people’s writing, the writing life or just to say how nice or difficult the whole business of writing is!

How often do you update it?

Roughly every 4 to 6 weeks, although I haven’t updated it for a while just recently (I blame Christmas!)

What do you do if you’re too busy to blog?

I pop stuff on Facebook (my personal and Author pages) and Twitter. I also use Pinterest but not very regularly.

Do you follow other blogs, and if so, how? (eg by email, in a reader etc)

Yes, I’ve signed up for a couple (by email) but normally just keep a watch out for interesting blogs by people I admire and will retweet or share them when I can. I have made a private list of ‘People who Tweet Interesting Things’ on Twitter which I monitor so often discover blogs there.

Tell us a bit more about how you use Twitter and other social media platforms …

Claire Dyer on Twitter

I regularly use Facebook and Twitter and try and steer the tricky line between being ‘Claire Dyer the person’ and ‘Claire Dyer the writer’. What I’ve found is that the private and public sides to being a writer are very different and it’s not always easy to manage this in the right way. Someone once told me that using social media is like being at a party so it’s not a good idea to arrive, shout out your own news and not listen to others’. Therefore my guiding principles are to be interested in other people, be supportive of their initiatives, be funny, not moan too much and let people know what I’m up to but not in a pushy way.

How do you manage the time you spend on social media – do you have any rules or tricks, and do you use a social media dashboard eg Hootsuite or Tweetdeck?

I mostly use my ‘People who Tweet Interesting Things’ list on Twitter. I belong to a number of Facebook Groups so that’s helpful in tracking what’s going on but usually I dip in and out so do risk missing things. A friend did mention TweetDeck to me but I haven’t managed to get my head round downloading it yet!

How do you balance social media activity with your actual writing – do you have any rules you abide by, or any tips/advice you would give to other writers?

Log out of Facebook and Twitter when writing otherwise you WILL get distracted!

Some people find social media stressful. What do you most like about it what do you most dislike?

I love social media when it’s positive and supportive and when it serves to disseminate news and information. I do, however, find it hard to deal with it when it is used for negative reasons or when an online discussion gets personal. My tenet is that if I don’t have something nice to say, keep quiet!

Claire’s latest novel is available in paperback and as an e-book, The Perfect Affair – it’s been described as ‘A beautifully told, absorbing romance,’ by the Sunday Mirror, and it’s currently a Sainsbury’s Winter Read.

You can find out more about Claire and her books on her website and blog, via her Amazon Author Page, on Facebook, on Twitter and on her Goodreads Author Page.

Six Reasons to have an Author Page on Goodreads


Goodreads Author Page

Goodreads is a huge online community of readers, 25 million members and counting, but did you know there are over 100,000 authors in its Author Program? If you have published a book, even if it’s self-published, you can apply for an Author Page on Goodreads.

One of the key pieces of advice I give writers is to connect with your readers, rather than just market to them. Social media gives us the tools to grow our reader base one person at a time, and where better to do that than within a ready-made community of readers? Here are six good reasons why you should have an Author Page on Goodreads.

1) You can create interest in your books & develop a network of fans

This starts with a ‘stand out’ Author Profile Page. Make sure you upload a professional headshot for your photo and fill in your biog (this doesn’t need to be any more personal than the biog on your book’s dustjacket). There are other areas of your profile worth filling in – it all helps generate interest in you and your work. Here’s a good example of an Author Page. You should also make the most of your book(s) by creating dedicated book pages. Essential is a book cover (but it can’t be changed once you’ve uploaded it – so don’t put up a dummy or ‘working design’ cover). Give some details about the book, maybe even an excerpt. If you are a new author this is your chance to ‘sell’ your book. Here’s an example of a book page.

Remember also you are a reader not just an author – use Goodreads as a reader, by putting books on your ‘read’ ‘reading’ or ‘want to read’ bookshelves, list your influences, follow other authors, write reviews or rate books you’ve read, connect your blog feed* or post updates. All this activity gets seen by members – they’ll learn more about your reading interests and tastes and be more likely to take a look at your book(s) and even become fans to follow your updates. (*Only Goodreads Authors can connect their blog feed so that latest blog posts appear on their Author Page – regular members don’t have this facility.)

2) You can promote your books with Giveaways

Either in the run up to publication, or once it’s out, a Giveaway can kickstart interest in your book and generate a spike in reviews and follower numbers. Only give away what you can afford to (and remember shipping costs – you can always specify which countries are eligible). Start and end on odd days – May 6th – June 5th, for example, rather than May 1st – 31st. That way there will be less competition when your Giveaway starts.

Giveaways are listed on a special page and are very popular – and average 20 copy giveaway in the US attracts over 900 entries! People see the giveaways their friends are entering and often join in. It can be a good way to extend your reach into the Goodreads community.

3) You can build a body of good reviews and use them for promotional purposes

One of your aims as a Goodreads Author is to increase the number of reviews for your books, which starts with getting your books onto members ‘want to read’ lists. Every member has a newsfeed of activity, and friends’ activity shows up first. User-generated reviews are trusted, and when a member sees a friend’s review they’re more likely to have a look and place it on their ‘want to read’ list.

Basically, reviews help other users discover books. And not just within Goodreads – millions of readers share their reviews on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. You can display your Goodreads reviews on your blog or website, if you wish, which can not only support sales of your books but may also encourage your blog readers to join Goodreads and enrich its value as a community still further.

4) You can have conversations with fellow readers/enthusiasts & invite questions

There are umpteen special interest groups on Goodreads. If you’re passionate about your genre or a specific sector, join a group and take part in discussions there. This is slow-burn strategy for building your network, well worth it in the long term. But it’s important not to join groups in order to sell your book. They are for discussion, nobody there wants the hard sell.

Another popular feature is ‘Ask the Author’. Once you start building a network of readers, open up for questions – you can set it for whatever period of time you wish, but make sure it’s a time when you’ll be around to answer the Qs. Take another look at Ayelet Waldman’s Author Page for an example of a ‘Ask the Author’ and the questions/answers it generated. It’s a great chance to answer individual questions, like a ‘meet the author’ session in real life.

There are plenty of other ways to overtly promote your books, and one of the most obvious is targeted ads.

5) You can extend your reach with ads

Ads on Goodreads run on similar lines to Facebook ads, in that you have control over how much you spend (pay per click), what the ads look like and targeting. Goodreads admin suggest broader targeting than on Facebook, because when you think about it you’re already targeting a niche – people who read and are interested in books and their authors.

According to Goodreads, a Giveaways backed by ads increases entries by up to 200. Ads are an opportunity to extend awareness of your books outside your circle of friends and fans. Make sure you include a call to action, and check your stats before, during and after your ad campaigns. Has the campaign resulted in more fans, more ‘want to read’s, more reviews? All these activities are building your influence on Goodreads, helping more readers to connect with you and discover your books.

6) Great things can result from having a strong Goodreads presence

Your books may get selected for site-wide exposure by being added to Listopia Lists and voted on by the community, or even featured in Goodreads newsletters. Both of these features brings you to the attention of more members and can thereby increase the numbers of fans, bookshelf listings and reviews for your books.


Your (social media) hub is where the heart is


Everyone needs a home on the social web. Maybe you already have a website, or an author page on Amazon or Goodreads, or a LinkedIn profile. Any of those might be your home base, or hub.

But I’d like to talk you into thinking of your blog as your hub. A blog is different from a plain ol’ website, which is why you see so many authors having a blog alongside, or even a part of, their main promotional website. And that’s not a bad thing, because it kind of separates out the purely promotional stuff from the behind-the-scenes conversation.

An author website can be static – updated only when there’s a new book, a launch or other news. It can be out-and-out promo – find out more about my books and buy them, here’s my media page, tour details, publisher and agent contacts etc. It’s your shop window. It’s where you wear a clean suit and your brightest smile.

Your blog, on the other hand, is far from static. And it might even be a bit scruffy around the edges. You can wear your jim-jams, no-one will mind. It’s the place where you can be as much yourself as you want to be – which doesn’t mean baring all – please!

But it’s a place for conversations (rather than press releases), for confidences (rather than hype) and for giving (rather than selling). Honesty, generosity, listening and sharing – isn’t that the way we make friends in real life? So why would it be different online?

A blog is your own space, for you to define by whatever criteria feel right for you. It’s where you have a genuine voice, unmediated. Over time it grows into an amazing trove of your writing, your thoughts and anything else you want to add to it – whereas a profile page on a social or commercial platform has much less flexibility for expression, plus it could change or even disappear without you being consulted.

Create a blog and make it your home and your hub – it’s where the heart is.